JERUSALEM — Hours before the Pope’s arrival in the area, Israeli police arrested some 26 Jewish protesters at David’s Tomb on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem’s Old City overnight Saturday.
The demonstrators opposed plans to close the compound to worshipers and visitors ahead of Pope Francis I visit to the vicinity on Sunday.
“The state of Israel is ‘cutting and running’ in the face of a representative of a religion that has caused untold harm to the Jewish people,” members of the group contended.
The some 150 members of the group included an IDF soldier who reportedly pointed his weapon at a cop in an attempt to deter a friend’s arrest at a traditional post-Sabbath Melave Malka celebration.
“We will neither forget nor forgive the Crusades and Inquisition, and other depredations against the Jewish people,” they told Israel National News.
Police forcibly removed a number of the protesters who had holed up within the sacred compound, Army radio said.
Several of the police required medical treatment for minor injuries, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.
The Pope began his visit in Bethlehem Sunday morning, where he arrived in a Jordanian military helicopter, and is set to hold Mass.
He will meet with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials later in the day, and visit other holy sites, in the contentious sojourn.
Over 8,000 police and security forces are arrayed across greater Jerusalem to secure the Papal visit.